The theme for this year's National Student Commonwealth Forum is Climate Change.
What is climate change?
Climate change can be understood as shifts in weather patterns and temperatures, some of these shifts are naturally occurring because of our changing planet but at NSCF we will be focusing on climate change that has been driven by human behaviour, such as the use of fossil fuels. Activists have encouraged the use of the term the “climate crisis” or the “climate emergency” to emphasise the urgency of the situation.
How does climate change impact Commonwealth countries?
Climate change is already impacting Commonwealth countries, and will continue to do so at an accelerating rate. “Thirty-one of the 53 Commonwealth countries are classified as small states.” Small states are disproportionately impacted by climate change. Shifts in our environment, such as an increase in flooding, puts the many islands and coastal countries that make up the commonwealth at risk.
Many Small states also struggle to have the same infrastructure as larger states which means that responding to climate events is more difficult.
What is climate change?
At NSCF we will be discussing how climate change impacts countries in the Commonwealth, recognizing that climate change impacts all countries in the commonwealth differently.
The unbalanced manner in which the developed world has contributed to climate change and the environmental degradation of developing countriesWe will discuss the role that developed countries play in polluting developing countries.
Delegates will have the opportunity to discuss and debate changes Commonwealth countries can take in confronting this crisis such as banning the export of garbage and recycling to developing nations as well as the merits of various proposed solutions. We will debate policy changes that Commonwealth countries could implement today, such as banning the export of garbage and recycling to developing nations, looking at the merits and demerits of different policy solutions.
Racism and Climate Change
What is climate racism?
Climate racism is a term for the disproportionate impact that climate change has on racialized people. BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour) are more likely to suffer the consequences of climate change.
Climate racism and the Commonwealth
Climate racism is especially evident in the Commonwealth. Underdeveloped countries are regularly hit by climate disasters despite having a very small carbon footprint. People in Zambia have extremely low carbon footprints but they have been facing a prolonged drought caused by climate change.
What is the Commonwealth doing about this?
The Commonwealth is working hard to address climate change through the promotion of a zero carbon economy plan, moving to increase focus on adaptation measures for small states that are already impacted by climate change, and funding Commonwealth countries with developing economies.
Gender Inequality and Climate Change
Why is it important to focus on how climate change impacts women?
The Commonwealth Gender Integration for Climate Action report found that “underrepresentation of women in climate policies and plans, poor access to climate finance, technologies, and lack of capacity for effective decision-making compounds inequality.”
Saint Lucia is an example of how important it is to focus on both gender equality and climate change. With Saint Lucia's Chief Sustainable Development and Environment Officer stating that “Noteworthy, women have assumed entrepreneurial roles over regular farming skills, in women-only farming groups. Consequently, as entrepreneurs, women can actively influence the strategic decision-making requirements necessary for the agriculture sector to become more climate-resilient”
What is the commonwealth doing about the issue of climate change and gender?
Overall, 65 percent of Commonwealth countries included gender as a cross-cutting or mainstreaming priority in new or updated National Development Strategies.
Indigenous People and Climate Change
Why is it important to focus on Indigenous people and the commonwealth?
Approximately one-third of the world’s Indigenous peoples live in the Commonwealth, across Asia, the Caribbean and Americas, Africa, the Pacific and Europe.
What has the Commonwealth been doing to support Indigneous people?
“We are extremely proud that through our Commonwealth Common Earth programme, we have been able to showcase the potential of indigenous knowledge to generate a remarkable and growing range of sustainable and practical climate solutions, in areas such as agriculture, natural resource management, weather prediction and biodiversity conservation.” - Secretary-General Patricia Scotland
An example is in Guyana where the Macushi tribe continue to promote their nature-based way of life, including through the work of the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation and Development, jointly founded by the Government of Guyana and the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Intersectionality and Climate Change
What is intersectionality?
The Commonwealth defines intersectionality as “the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of discrimination combine, overlap or intersect.” (Commonwealth Gender Integration for Climate Action).
What does the issue of climate change intersect with?
Climate change impacts everyone differently depending on a person's identity. A person's race, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, ability, age, religion, and ethnicity are all factors into how climate change may impact them.
For example, the way climate change impacts Black women living in poverty in Zambia is very different from the way climate change impacts white middle class women in the United Kingdom because of their different identities such as race, socio-economic status, and geolocation.
Why do these identities matter?
Unfortunately climate change doesn't impact everyone in the same way, and in order to solve the issue of climate change we have to be specific in how we talk about its impacts. It is important to remember the diversity of commonwealth countries when writing your resolutions.